Cleese: 'Don't Mention The War'
John Cleese's legendary skit from THE GERMANS episode of 1970s sitcom FAWLTY TOWERS is being adapted to encourage a new initiative to break down prejudices against the European nation. In the famous scene, Cleese's hotel manager character BASIL FAWLTY panics when a group of Germans arrive to holiday at his hotel and instructs his staff, "Don't mention the war," only to offend the visitors himself. Cleese's Nazi-style goose-step earned him a place in comedy history, and the phrase, "Don't mention the war," will now be used in an essay competition organised by the German embassy in London. Students in the UK will write a 3,000 word essay to fit the brief: "We know about the cliches John Cleese refers to, but what are your personal experiences of contemporary Germany and all things German?" Entrants stand to win prizes including placements with German media organisations and the BBC, summer courses in Germany and flights to Berlin. Cleese says, "I'm delighted to help with trying to break down the ridiculous anti-German prejudices of the tabloids and clowns like Basil Fawlty, who are pathetically stuck in a world view that's more than half a century out of date." A spokesman for the German embassy says, "We had to get permission to use the slogan 'Don't mention the war' and he was happy to give it."